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Within the pages of Ripley’s Wonder Book of Strange Facts (1957), a tale is told of the lavish funeral the poet Virgil staged for his pet housefly. Virgil’s patron, Maecenas, delivered a lengthy and moving eulogy to the departed insect, and Virgil was himself said to have uttered a few of his exquisite verses over the tiny carcass. A tomb had been erected, and the lifeless body of the fly was placed within it to the wails and moans of the professional mourners. So lavish were the commemorations that the cost was estimated at over eight hundred thousand sesterces.